A View from Jerusalem
| Dr Daniel Juster, Director |

Patty and I moved to the Jerusalem area (Mevaseret Zion) a few months ago. Downtown is only 10 to 15 minutes away when it is not rush hour. It is amazing how living close by is changing our perspective on the city. It is a great privilege to live in a community of young adults and to be part of the leadership team with Asher Intrater. New planting has already begun. However, in this article, I want to mostly emphasize my perspective on Jerusalem.

The Orthodox Shift in Jerusalem

Jerusalem has become much more Ultra Orthodox than it was a few years ago. This is through immigration and family growth. The Ultra Orthodox men wear 18th century clothing including large black hats, dark suits and coats. The present mayor is Ultra Orthodox and has a reputation of not reaching out to all the constituents of the city. He has not given the Christian supporters of Israel the kind of welcome that his predecessors gave, in spite of the strong support of the central government. It has been a source of some concern and amazement to me to see Ultra Orthodox in more and more neighborhoods of the city. At present, this is the group that is the least open to the Gospel, yet we do know of some who have recently embraced Yeshua and his Kingdom. The general sense I get is that the city is more oppressed today than previously. The legalism is much greater than in the past. The Orthodox seek to block legitimate arteries for travel on the Sabbath. There have been clashes with police authorities as well. The vibrant mixture of populations has lessened and business enterprise seems lest vibrant as well. Terrorism has taken its toll on the city.

Can we really see the leadership of Jerusalem, including the Ultra Orthodox, say "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord?" We trust so, but it is not by natural eyes that we believe this.

The Secular - Religious Divide

Conservative and Reform Judaism exist in Israel. However, these more liberal varieties of Judaism have not really taken root. The Orthodox control much in the State. The coalition governments of Israel enter into very sad compromises with the Ultra Orthodox to obtain a majority parliamentary coalition. Part of this compromise includes huge sums of money for the Orthodox. The Orthodox schools have more funding than their secular counterparts. These are religious training schools (Yeshivot). Most Ultra Orthodox do not serve in the Army and are given exemptions even though Judaism is not pacifistic. While the Modern Orthodox (those of the smaller knitted kippah or skull cap) serve in the Army and are a normal part of the society, the Ultra Orthodox in their various varieties have become a welfare underclass. Unlike in New York where most Ultra Orthodox have to work to make a living, in Israel many simply live on government support. Hence, most secular Israelis who live in the Jerusalem area despise the Ultra Orthodox who have become the dominant Orthodox. Though some Israelis become Ultra Orthodox, most secular Israelis are turned off to religion completely. They point to the Ultra Orthodox as the reason and find them repulsive.

The secular youth are open to everything. They experiment with sex, drugs and New Age religion. There is an emptiness and skepticism. The secular Zionist values of their parents are proving inadequate to give meaning. Some think of leaving Israel to make money. The divine purpose of Israel and a rationale to fight to establish the land elude most.

Bored Orthodox Youth

Yet even in Jerusalem among the Orthodox, the inroads of modernity have been unavoidable. One night after riding home from a dinner out with our close friends, Ron and Elana Cantor, we came across hordes of Ultra Orthodox young people who were acting like teenagers do in many cities. They were cutting up, jaywalking and jay-running across streets, and generally seeking to let off some steam. The great anomaly was their dress. There was a contingent of police present to keep order. I had such a sense that their orthodoxy was not fulfilling to them. Someone we know maintains a ministry to these kids. He holds a Christian rock jam and these kids show up. Amazing! They are listening to Christian rock! Perhaps there will be more openness to the Good News than first appears. Some of these Orthodox kids are experimenting with drugs and other destructive behaviors unbeknownst to their parents.

The One Great Alternative

Of course, every follower of Yeshua would say that He is the only real alternative to Orthodoxy and Secularity. However, the more I observe the scene in Jerusalem, the more I become convinced that the option of following Yeshua is the extraordinarily more attractive alternative. In New Covenant Biblical faith we find the true answer to both the skeptical secularist and the Orthodox legalist. First we have the attractive figure of Yeshua himself. In the light of His glory all else pales. Can we present Him and His Kingdom in a way that enables others to really see the "Pearl of great price?" The New Covenant preserves the promises and purpose of Israel. It gives us a strong rationale to live in the land and rebuild it. We understand the irrevocable gifts and call to Israel. (Rom. 11:29). There is a divine mandate for being Jewish and Israeli. The secularist does not know this mandate and the Orthodox have a somewhat twisted form of living out this mandate. The follower of Yeshua, by having the mind of the Messiah, is able to receive the good things in the Jewish heritage but also to reject that which is not compatible with the Bible. He provides an answer that is truly spiritual and hopeful. He offers the message of everlasting life. It is the solution to the meaning of life. The appeal of life in the Spirit in comparison to Ultra Orthodox is refreshing indeed. It is through the Spirit that the righteous requirements of the Torah are fulfilled in us (Romans 8:4). We do really have the answer to the terrible split between the religious and the secular. The opportunity is enormous. Our community of Yeshua disciples includes both Jews that were raised in secular homes and in Orthodox homes.

Jews are Responding to the Good News

Last week I happened in on Asher as he prayed with a young man from an Orthodox background who had just embraced Yeshua.

Both Orthodox and secular Israelis will only come in significant numbers if we can show an attractive life in the Kingdom and demonstrate the reality of the Kingdom with signs and wonders just as Peter prayed in Acts 4 in the first century. We think we are on the verge of something wonderful. Indeed, the secular-Orthodox divide in Israel is just the situation where the Gospel can flourish.

By Daniel Juster


Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International. Donate to Tikkun International.

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Comments
Comments:
07:40 10Jan05 Debbie Boer -
Thank you. I enjoyed the article. It is good to know what is going on in Jerusalem. I was encouraged.

08:44 10Jan05 David Watkins -
This article was very useful to me. It expresses a real time view of the specific realities that those who minister Jesus to Israel face. It give me specific appreciation and prayer points to intercede for these segments across the spectrum of all Jews in the land. It enables me to intercede for these precious saints who have been called to deliver this message in an environment and a culture that is impossible unless the authority and demonstrable power of authentic spirit-led ministry is evident. This information is food for my spirit that enables me to stay engaged with your work to fulfill God's purpose in Jacob and fuel for my intercession that allows me to recieve and speak, with a bit more practical understanding, Jesus' heart for what you are doing.

18:28 10Jan05 Kelly Lee -
I am so blessed by this article! My prayers are with you. I'm a South Korean national and I work for the UNDP. I work in Nairobi, Kenya. I look forward to visiting Israel this summer for the first time!

13:35 12Jan05 anonymous -
Praise the Lord!

21:45 12Jan05 Don Finto -
Love this way of communicating and always appreciate your insights.

15:44 14Jan05 Kathy Cavanaugh -
Thank you for sharing insights in Jerusalem, so our hearts can understand and better feel the heartbeat of Abba yearning for fellowship with His brethren, and for targeted prayer. Blessings, grace and shalom, Kathy

18:12 18Jan05 - Pelham Gross -
Thanks Dan! Keep the good stuff coming.

15:23 27Jan05 Igor Miguel -
Wow! It's very great listening news from Jerusalem, and know more on it. I'm shure The Great Revival we are wanting will happen when every messianic jews in Israel live the Shlichut - an Apostolic Moving - by the Holy Spirit. It will be great! In the first century G-d moved through His Glory in the apostles and it marked up the minds in Israel History. God is moving... We can fill, the apostles who God is arising can fill it. Yeshua is coming soon! Great Dan - Go ahead!

10:08 26Jul06 Bob Colver -
Dan, Your message is encouraging as I have been praying for the Orthodox/ultra-Orthodox since my 1994 trip to Israel. My Puritan forefather came with John Winthrop Jr. in 1635. The Lord has revealed visions since I met you at Chapel Hill in 1990 and I rejoice in your move to Jerusalem.